Unions accuse Qantas of 'ground first, talk later'
The ACTU has accused Qantas of deliberately grounding its fleet rather than negotiating an agreement to with unions to end the industrial dispute that has crippled Australian air travel.
"Clearly there has been a conspiracy here," ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said prior to entering the Fair Work hearing in Melbourne, which was convened at the request of the federal government.
"Clearly this decision had been made for some time.
"Nobody believes the decision was made on Saturday and they have been preparing for it for some time."
Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten said the government was not looking to blame anybody over the grounding, but wanted the issue resolved quickly so that thousands of stranded passengers affected by the dispute could reach their destinations.
"We certainly want Qantas flying as soon as possible," Mr Shorten said.
Prior to entering the hearing, Mr Shorten said there was enough "smart people to resolve this matter".
He said that he had been "staggered" by the action the airline had taken in grounding its fleet.